Food spotlight: The Philippines

At the crossroads between China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and India, with heavy influences from Spain and the United States, and consisting of 135 distinct ethno-linguistic tribes within the Philippines, it's no surprise that Filipino cuisine is so varied and rich.

Most Filipino dishes consist of a combination of sweet, sour and salty, with dishes from the Cordilleras region and those enjoyed by Muslim Filipinos adding in a good deal of spice. Here are 9 of the ones we love most:

  • Adobo: Although it's originally Mexican, Filipinos have made this mouthwateringly delicious dish their own. Adobo consists of chicken, pork, lamb or seafood cooked in vinegar, salt, garlic, pepper, soy sauce and spices, and thanks to its preparation it can be stored for days without spoiling.
  • Tinapa: Usually blackfin scad or milkfish that's preserved in brine and then smoked, tinapa is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, usually with a garlic and vinegar dipping sauce.
  • Lechon: A pig, spit-roasted over coals until its skin becomes crisp and golden brown, this delicacy is served with lechon kawali – or liver sauce – made from onions, garlic, breadcrumbs and liver spread.
  • Bulalo: A popular hot beef broth native to the Southern Luzon region of the country, bulalo is made from cooking beef shanks and includes rich bone marrow.
  • Arroz Caldo: Literally “rice soup", this soothing street food consists of a thick chicken rice porridge, cooked with ginger and garnished with egg, garlic and onions.
  • Balut: Not for the faint of heart, balut is a popular Filipino dish consisting of a 17-day-old duck embryo floating in a mixture of hot sauce and vinegar.
  • Suman at manga: This delectable sticky rice snack is steamed in banana or coconut leaves and includes sweet ripe mango.
  • Pastillas de leche: Another sweet dessert, this confection consists of thickened milk and sugar – nomnomnom.
  • Merienda: Not really a specific dish, merienda is essentially a morning or early evening snack that includes rice and a cool or hot drink. It can include bread, pastries, noodles or even balut.

Have you visited the Philippines or had an opportunity to try Filipino food? Tell us what you love most in the Shop Talk blog community forum.

Did you know: What's with SPAM?

It's no secret – Filipinos love SPAM, the American cooked canned meat. Introduced to it during World War II, a fast food chain in the country offers a menu based entirely on the processed meat – including SPAM burgers, SPAM spaghetti, SPAM poppers and more.   (Source)

33 thoughts on “Food spotlight: The Philippines

  1. You will love all the food there! there’s more behind the Adobo we also have the pork cooked with tamarind that we call (sinigang) the amazing rice cakes, the sweet purple yum, the leche flan, mango cakes ugh the fresh crabs, seafoods its amazing! If you guys have not visit the Philippines put it in your bucket list, the amazing food and the beautiful beaches will make your life special.

  2. I have eatin there food when they came to New York and their food was absolutely delicious

  3. I like cooking with Adobó because it brings out the flavors in my foods. Always cook with it.

  4. Congratulation on your hard work, I appreciate it very much and hoping you are full of success in the future. Thank you for your kind introduction and wish one day we could taste and enjoy it !

  5. I have been to Singapore and ate their food and it was very good. I also tried the Indian food which was also good!

  6. You didn’ t mention their Garlic Rice!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. i have not eaten philipo food since 1967 while in the navy
    i found the tastes very good with fun and tasty use of spices
    after 50 years i do not recall any particular dish but all was good

  8. Born and raised in Hawaii Filipino food is easy to come by. From pancit to menudo,Filipino dishes are enjpyed throughtout the islands. I personally love linguisa sausages, chicken papaya, pork adobo, and dinuguan. Halo-Halo ( a sweet dessert that is made with fruit, crushed ice, and sseetened condensed milk) is also my favorite. I learned how to make many Filipino dishes and still cook them today living in NC.☺ Certain seasonings are hard to find but thanks to Amazon I can always stock up.

    Spam is also a Hawaii favorite! In fact Spam can be found in dishes at five star restaurants to conveience stores! Every famly has their go to recipe using Spam. Stir-fried, fried, grilled, marinated, or baked: Spam is so versatile and easy to make.

  9. A friend of mine’s wife is from the Philippines and she makes a salad with raisins and a host of other things. It is quite good. She gives me a jar every once in a while. I have it now. I also enjoy Thai food very much, and of course Chinese, and I got to sample Vietnamese food when I was there in the ’60’s, but I don’t remember anything specific. I do remember there were some spicy items that I enjoyed.

  10. Being in the medical field I have had the joy of working with Filipinos all my life. Every where I have worked there were Filipinos willing to share there home cooked dishes. The only dish I know the name of is Pan, but I’ve enjoyed many different dishes. I always looked forward to any gathering we had just because I knew where was a chance I would get some good Filipino food. I’ve often wondered why there are no Filipino restaurants.

  11. Yes, I have visited the Philippines,was there for 19 days. Loved anything with shrimp. I loved their fresh mangos.

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